This week’s message from Sardis Pastor

Better to Stand Alone than to Follow the Crowd – Message 05/04/20

In the book of Acts 14 :8 – 20; we read a very interesting story on Paul and Barnabas’ ministry. The story is interesting for different reasons (a miracle took place, Paul and Barnabas were seen as gods. Paul and Barnabas reaction, the change of mind of the crowd, Paul and Barnabas courage). This episode took place during their first missionary journey and it was in the city of Lystra. Lystra was located in Asia Minor, in modern day – Turkey. This story took place during Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul and his companions were visiting the city of Lystra and they came across a man who was paralyzed from birth. So, he never walked or climbed a tree. He was very limited in what he could do. When Paul saw him he had a spiritual discernment that that man had faith to be healed. Paul commanded the gentleman to walk and straight away he started walking. When the crowds saw what had just taken place, the people started shouting ‘the gods are amongst us’. They thought they were two of their pagan gods and they wanted to offer sacrifices to them. The gods the crowd proclaimed them to be were Zeus and Hermes. Zeus in ancient Greek mythology was the god of sky, lightning and thunder, and ruler of all the gods on Mount Olympus. Hermes was the god over many different activities but above all he was the herald and messenger. Paul and Barnabas were horrified that people could even consider the idea they were gods. So they tore their clothes just to prove they were flesh and bones like them. Paul and Barnabas made the most of a ‘bad situation’ and used it to proclaim the kingdom of God. We need to learn to make sure miracles are to point the way to God and highlight His power. Miracles are not to prove what a great man/woman of God we are. Miracles are not to highlight our faith but God’s power and compassion. It is the responsibility of the believer to point people out to the Lord and teach about His ways. The enemy tried to spoil what God was doing by diverting peoples’ attention to pagan gods. How dare he?

The crowds were very impressed with them, but soon after this so amazing episode, some of the Jews from Antioch turned the same crowd against Paul and Barnabas. The Jewish people hated the paganism of the Hellenistic culture. However, they hated Paul even more so, to the point, they were willing to side with those who were on the wrong instead of adhering to the truth. They  became friends with their spiritual enemies in order to cause problems to God’s cause. Hatred is a very ugly thing and it is always destructive, no good thing will come out as a result of hatred. If you have a hint of hatred in your heart, ask the Lord to set you free from it. It will cause massive problems later on if you do not deal with it. The Jews won the crowd over and now they saw Paul and Barnabas as two evil people and Paul was stoned by the crowd. They stopped throwing stones at him because they thought he was dead.  It is just shocking how the crowd changed their mind and behaviour so promptly. People lose their sense of responsibility when they are in a crowd. Things they do when in a crowd they would never do if they were alone. The government has used an expression in order to contain the Coronavirus ‘herd Immunization’, I think I can understand what they mean and what they are doing. But looking from a different perspective, we Christians are not a ‘herd’ we are ‘flock’ and our Shepherd is the good Shepherd. We Christians, we must learn to stand as individuals even when in the midst of a crowd. We cannot allow the crowd to carry us with them, we are individuals and we are going to face God as individuals. Our relationship with God is strengthened in our individual relationship with Him. Please, do not misunderstand me, it is wonderful to be part of a good community, it is wonderful to belong to a good and solid Christian fellowship, but it can never take away the fact that our relationship with the Lord is first and mostly based upon a personal (individual) relationship with Him . During this time of ‘quarantine’ , please keep in touch with one another and encourage one another. However, we are experiencing an historical event in our lives, something very rare is taking place now and many nations are on lock down. My advice to you is ‘make the most of it and learn to develop your own relationship with the Lord’. If we take such a step we as a fellowship of believers will come out on the other end of the tunnel much stronger and healthier than when we first entered it. It is a possibility that we have to work on it, but we need to work on it as individuals, so, when we meet up again we are going to be a much stronger community. We need to learn to be a strong individual but in the midst of a crowd.

If you carry on reading the story, you will see Paul and his companions went from Lystra do Derbe and after Derbe they went back to Lystra to encourage the disciples. In the midst of all of this trouble Paul and Barnabas stood against the crowd, paid the price and made an impression 0n peoples’ lives, the fact is that they returned to the place where they suffered a lot to encourage the local church. We cannot allow negative experiences in life to put us off, if we allow that we have lost the battle.

Just to finish if you look at Acts 16:1, you see Paul in his second missionary journey went to Lystra ‘again’ and there he found a disciple called Timothy. Most probably he and his mother were converted during Paul’s first visit or as a result of the first visit. Learn to stand as an individual in the crowd and God will certainly stand by your side. As Marlene says. ‘A man with God is a majority’.

God bless

As it is the first Sunday of the month and we always have Communion together we are going to have it now in our own homes. If there are other believers in your household ask them to join you. If there aren’t other believers in your household you take it alone. You will need bread and wine; if you do not have wine you can use Ribena or just water. We are going to celebrate it only on the first Sunday of the month but you feel free to celebrate it different days of the month.

The broken bread symbolizes the body of Jesus that was broken for us.

The wine symbolizes the blood of Jesus that was shed for us.

Read your Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:23 – 26.

Pray and give God thanks for Jesus broken body and then eat the bread

Give God thanks for Jesus blood and then drink the wine


Bible Study – 07/04/20

Today we are going to be looking at the life story of Joseph. The name Joseph in the Bible means ‘the Lord will add’. I am sure we are all very familiar with the story of Joseph. He was Jacob’s 11th son and the first one with his wife Rachel. Joseph was one of twelve boys and his father’s favourite. We should have no favourites but it shows us the honesty of the biblical accounts. Favouritism will cause problems within a family. Joseph had a coat of many colours (there is a play about it). He had dreams from God and he spoke them out. His brothers were jealous of him and because of that they even planned to murder him but instead they sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites who in turn sold him to the Egyptians. It was a terrifying experience for Joseph, he was betrayed by his own, his own planned to murder him, but instead sold him as an object. Sometimes we think to ourselves ‘I am a Christian and look at the mess my family is in’. It is right to ask questions but it is wrong to think because you are godly you are vaccinated against troubles and disappointments. Joseph went from being a favourite son to be a slave, as a slave he had no shoes to wear, no rights whatsoever, he needed to learn a new culture, a new language, he was taken to the human market and sold as a slave. We know the outcome of Joseph’s story, but he did not. He needed to wake up every day and believe God was going to step in. Today we are going to concentrate on chapter 39, it is when Joseph was sold as a slave to Potiphar who was the captain of the Palace guard.

In the book of Genesis chapter 39, things started going well for Joseph and the Lord was prospering him. We read 3 times in this chapter and ‘God was with Joseph’ – verses 3,21,23. Joseph was young, handsome and above all he feared God. Potiphar’s wife desired him but he ran away from her but left behind his cloak. That cloak became evidence of a crime he never committed. I am sure Joseph created in himself the ‘garment complex’. Twice in his life he was in trouble because of a garment – one of many colours and the other one he left in Potiphar’s house. Joseph was found guilty of a crime he never committed and down to prison he went. He had no one to fight his cause, he was alone and once again betrayed but this time in a foreign country. Even though it was painful to be betrayed by Potiphar’s wife it was not as painful as being betrayed by his own brothers.

The closer the person is to you, the more painful is the betrayal. A friend is supposed to protect you and not harm you. Joseph got in trouble because of his good character because he feared God. If you get in trouble because of your faithfulness towards God in a very positive way be proud of yourself. Joseph was found guilty but the most important thing was ‘God and Joseph’ both knew he was innocent. You can see the hand of God in this whole matter because Joseph was supposed to have been punished with death but his life was spared. The prison Joseph went to was for those who have acted against the national interest of those days – treason -. It was a very harsh prison and Joseph was there for many years. What catches our eyes in verse 20 ‘Joseph was in the king’s Prison’. Even today we believers  are confined into  God’s Prison. Lots of us are confined to our houses, we are in the ‘King’s Prison’. God has not lost control of the situation, God is doing something much bigger than what we can see or understand. Carrying on reading the story we learn Joseph tried to get out of prison, any of us would have done the same. Praise God, He did not allow Joseph out of prison before ‘His’ time. God elevated Joseph, but before He elevated him he brought him to a very low place. The wonderful thing is that in all this process ‘God was with Joseph’. This ‘confinement’ we are facing now can drive us mad or can drive us to a very close relationship with the Saviour. I do not believe in the prosperity theology but God certainly will prosper us in our lives and will teach some very important lessons that is costing the whole world billions if not trillions of pounds. So, my advice to you is ‘be still and know He is God’. We are seeing the mighty hand of God acting in ways we could not even think or imagine. What a wonderful God we serve. Joseph could not even dream of becoming the second man in command of the most powerful nation on earth in those days. But God did it and not Joseph.

Prayer Points:

John Jervis, June Harris, Phillys, Vernon, Kathy

People working for the NHS

Sharon France, Savannah, Rebecca and Nigel Rhys, Vicky, Gareth and Anna LLewllyn, Gaynor, Hanna Williams, Dr Paul Harries. Rebecca Chappel-Harries, Alison (Marion’s Daughter)

Pray for our country and its leaders

Pray for our fellowship and God will keep us close to him and close to each other

Phone people and check how they are.

Coming Friday is Good Friday and we are going to have a Special Remembrance Service at 3pm.  We will have Communion together and meditate on God’s love for us.

God bless


Pastor Fortunato Santos